Aged from the Inside Out

Bling Bling

2 oz Pisco <Macchu Pisco>
1/2 oz Dry Vermouth <Dolin>
1/2 oz Green Chartreuse

Combine ingredients and stir with ice, strain into a chilled cocktail glass. To oak age, make a ten serving batch in a container with a tight fitting lid. Add about an ounce of oak cubes (or a spiral). Shake every day or so and taste every few days until desired flavors are reached. Strain into clean container.


In the last few years, barrel aged cocktails have definitely become a thing.  Bars are taking classic cocktails (or even their own creations), throwing them in an oak barrel, and waiting to see what happens.  For brown spirits in particular, kind of takes the whole booze thing full circle.  Bars have the buying power and space to procure and store 3-5 gallon barrels without much hassle.  So what is the home bartender to do?  Fear not, for I have the answer for you.  Even better, you can play along at home.

DSC_0777A few years ago we got some of these oak cubes to use in our homebrews.  If I remember correctly, we soaked the cubes in rye whiskey for a few months, and then aged a rye ale on them to great success.  We had a bunch of leftover cubes that kicked around in the basement for a while, until I had my first experience with barrel aged cocktails at a bar.  Suddenly a light bulb went off.  There is really no difference between a homebrew beer and a cocktail.  Both are liquids which happily extract some oaky goodness from said cubes.  So I whipped up a 10 serving batch of both a Negroni and a Manhattan, threw some oak cubes in there, and waited.  I sampled every few days, looking for optimal oakiness.  After about two weeks, the all flavors got to know each other very well.  These versions could certainly hold their own against their barrel-born cousins.

That was about 2 years ago, and now I’m back at again.  Since the Negroni worked so well the first time, I’m going with its richer cousin, the Boulevardier.  For the second drink, I wanted to see how Green Chartreuse would take to some oak time.  The Bijou first popped into my head, but I didn’t want to do two drinks with sweet vermouth again.  Maybe something with dry vermouth and Green Chartreuse then.  Now we’re in Hague territory.  It’s a bourbon based drink, and I already had that with the Boulevardier.  Perusing my bar I noticed a bottle of Pisco.  Technically, Pisco cannot be aged on wood, but there are no rules against aging a Pisco based cocktail on wood.  I made a version to try before aging to make sure it’s a worthwhile endeavor.  After a few sips I knew the Bling Bling would be a great candidate for oakification.  There was a lot of bite from the Pisco and Chartreuse, followed by a clean dry finish thanks to the vermouth.  I’m very interested  to see how the aging will round out some of the sharper corners of this one.  Plus, who knows what will happen with the heretofore blasphemous combination of Pisco and wood.

I encourage all of you to pick up some oak cubes, or even these spirals, and try your own hand at an aged cocktail.  Choose whatever drink you want.  A few things to note.  I like to go with a spirit forward drink without any citrus or syrups.  You don’t want those ingredients turning south while waiting for the oak to do its thing.  I find about an ounce of cubes per 10 oz batch is about right. After two weeks there will be a good mix of flavors.  Just make ten servings of whatever cocktail you choose, put in a container with a tight sealing lid and add the wood.  Shake once a day or so, tasting every few days until the flavor is to your liking.  The best thing about all this is when it’s done, you have the easiest cocktail ever.  Just pour three ounces into a mixing glass, add ice and stir, then pour into a coupe or rocks glass.  That’s it!  Quickest service ever.

Let me know in the comments or on instagram what you plan to age in your home bar, and we can reconvene in two weeks (give or take) to see how it all came out!

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